Haxby station consultation prompts strong sense of déjà vu

The York Council has announced that it is conducting an “on line” consultation on whether (and where) a new railway station should be provided.

It says the short timescale (responses have to be in by 26th May) has been prompted by a request by central government for bids to its “New Station Fund 3”.

Haxby station back on the agenda

The timing is ironic with public transport facing a difficult time as the impact of “social distancing” hits home. Some 90% of bus and rail journeys may be deflected onto other transport modes. Still any new station would take several years to come to fruition so hopefully, by then, public transport will have recovered its popularity.

This will be the fourth attempt to get a new station opened at Haxby. The ambition dates back to the time when the City fell within the boundaries of the North Yorkshire County Council. That authority looked at various possible new station sites with Haxby, Strensall and a halt at the York hospital being the most popular.

The plans always came to nothing for a variety of reasons.

Initially there was confusion about whether the Haxby station was aimed at the “park and rail” (Parkway) market or at local villagers making their way to York, Leeds and beyond. A York rail shuttle service was deemed to be uneconomic, so services would be limited to the Transpennine frequencies.

The “Park and Rail” option proved to be problematic as a site with good road access and a large parking area was required. This might have been found near to the A1237 but that would have meant a hefty hike for those wanting to walk to the location. In the event, road-based park and ride services won the day although a residual fear remains that parking problems might still be caused if a village location attracts car born commuters from the east.

The working assumption is now that the station will be sited where the previous platforms were located (Station Road). One previous consultation in the 90’s also favoured the same location.

It produced an indignant response from one resident who had just purchased a property on Station Road.  He claimed he had no knowledge of any railway in the area much less a railway station. Officials pointed out that there was strong clue in the name of the street that he lived on!

Some favoured taking over the nearby allotments as a car park. This is also the current plan.  

Others were less enthusiastic and pointed out that the old station site was not very central to serve the now much larger Haxby/Wigginton community.

However, the key issue was always one of finance. 

Even the cheapest dual unmanned platform and bus shelter design cost over £1.2 million.  Stopping the transpennine trains would incur a delay and a cost. Any additional refinements, for example, a footbridge or car park would see the capital costs escalate.

 Analysis of transport demand suggested heavy peaks in the morning and evening commuter periods with a much lower demand at other times. Any re-timing of services might cause issues with “path” capacity at York station.

Finally there was a concern that a station could take customers from both stage carriage and park and ride bus services. This could mean less frequent – or possibly no – bus services in the Haxby area.

The survey does not really address many of the traditional barriers to providing a railway station at Haxby. It says nothing about either investment or running costs. It says even less about frequencies or hours of operation.

Without such information, respondents are unable to give an informed reply.

 The survey does, however, ask if respondents are “more or less likely to use public transport as a result of the coronavirus crisis”!

They go on to, rather naively, ask what residents would like to see “which would give them confidence to use public transport again?”

Rather invites the response “a vaccine”?

The survey can be completed by clicking here

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